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It will not be a slam-dunk victory for SFGG, something most could have said a year ago. With the Griffins pulling off a shock upset of the Denver Barbarians in the Mile High City last week, they have put the league on notice that they are ready to compete.

Roland Suniula showed a deft hand (or, more accurately, foot) in kicking for field position, and wings Brendan Brown and Pat Marek were outstanding.

Up front, the Griffins are tough and ornery, and are benefitting from the overseas apprenticeships of Graham Harriman and Tim Paulsen

Paulsen has come back from playing with Sale’s 2nd team in England a new player, and potentially a prospect form higher honors. Harriman is still developing, but paired with the experienced Charlie Jacobson in the second row, he is part of a formidable partnership.

That kind of partnership is with SFGG, also, as Notre Dame All American Nick Civetta starts alongside the experienced John Thomas.

SFGG sprinkles new and old throughout their team. Recent Cal grads Tom Rooke and Drew Hyjer join Opeti Okusi in a back row that covers a lot of ground.

Up front Paula Fukafuka and Saimone Laulaupeaalu hold up the younger Patrick Latu.

It’s a backline that’s been there, with Mose Timoteo and Volney Rouse manning the halfback positions. Former St. Mary’s star Brendan O’Meara is on the right wing and faces another Brendan, Brown of the Griffins, in a clash of new and old.

Most notable, though, for Golden Gate, is that Jone Naqica, who blew out his knee in the 2010 Super League final, is back, albeit on the bench, and is expected to get some time.

SFGG is expected to be welcoming back Danny LaPrevotte and Albert Tuipulotu later this spring, but neither is with the team at present.

In the end, this game will be an interesting clash of contrasts. The SFGG front row is massive, but Chicago’s is tough and strong. Both second rows have a lot on their shoulders, and who is the stronger there may tell the tale. In the back row, both units will have to put in a ton of work.

Chicago had it tactically right in the backs for the most part last week. But they have to worry about giving up 35 points, even in a victory. SFGG offloads as well as anyone, and they move the ball in the open field superbly well. The Griffins will have to contain that to win.

 

Note: Two sets of brothers face off this weekend. Tevita and Opeti Okusi start for SFGG, while Charlie and Erik Jacobson line up for Chicago

SFGG

1. Paula Fukofuka

2. Patrick Lati

3. Mone Laulaupeaalu

4. Nick Civetta

5. John Thomas

6. Opeti Okusi

7. Tom Rooke

8. Drew Hyjer

9. Mose Timoteo

10. Volney Rouse

11. Dean Cummings

12. Tevita Okusi

13. Jeff Van Meter

14. Brendon O’Meara

15. Jeffery Colata

Reserves

16. Jacob Nelson

17. Neill Barrett

18. Tim Little

19. Ricky Reynolds

20. Andrew Lowe

21. Samisoni Pone

22. Jone Naqica

Chicago Griffins

1.  Bleitner, Dave

2. Bucci, Jojo

3. Paulsen, Tim

4. Jacobson, Charlie

5. Harriman, Graham

6. Jacobson, Erik

7. McBride, Ryan

8. Fakatou, Villi

9. Doggett, Cal

10. Suniula, Roland

11. Brown, Brendan

12. Baleirara, Ratu

13. Beecher, Ryan

14. Marek, Pat

15. Quaglia, Corey


Reserves

16. Bujwit, Dan

17. Buchanan, Jon

18. Coleman, Scott (JR)

19. Najor, Matt

20. Debartolo, Don

21. Bordenkircher, Mike

22. Koch, Matt